Andrea Dovizioso 'fought like hell' to try and secure his first podium of the season in front of his home fans at Mugello on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Dovizioso, the man between himself and a debut Repsol Honda rostrum was countryman Valentino Rossi - winner of the past seven Italian Grands Prix - but Dovizioso pushed the reigning six-time MotoGP world champion hard, and was only 0.053sec behind at the chequered flag.
Dovizioso led a total of seven of the 23 laps, in both wet and dry conditions, and finished just 2.129sec behind race winner Casey Stoner (Ducati).
“The sensation of leading the race in front of my home crowd was incredible and I think overall we had a good race today - I'm satisfied. I fought like hell to take third and we were so close - only 53 thousandths from the podium!” said Dovi.
“I think our race strategy was good, we changed the bike at the right moment and I pushed as hard as possible to maintain my position. With three laps to go I tried to keep in contact with the others and when Rossi overtook me, I managed to stay with him. Then I tried to slipstream him out of the last corner but I couldn't make it.
“Anyway, all in all it was an exciting race and a positive result. We are getting closer, but still not close enough to win. We need to keep on working because we are still not as competitive as the fastest riders, especially in dry conditions.”
“It was good to see a Repsol Honda leading the race for several laps and this is where we want to be consistently,” said team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. “When it dried out Andrea didn't quite have the pace to fight for the win, but he put in a great effort and a podium would have been a good reward.”
Dovizioso lost out on third place at the previous Le Mans round, by 0.562sec to team-mate Pedrosa.
Dovizioso is now just one point behind fourth placed Pedrosa in the championship standings, after the Spaniard crashed out on Sunday.